The Sect Master had agreed to allow Hong Changhai to use that transcendent artifact to pressure Yang Qing at critical junctures. However, what the Sect Master had in mind was—while they had yet to seize control of South Edict Manor, the terms of the partnership were not to be broken. Yang Qing still needed to be protected, otherwise it would be against the interest of the School of Blue Jade after helping him lay claim South Edict Manor. Thus, all they needed to do was bluff Yang Qing for a while in the off-chance that he might just cave under the pressure, and agree to their demands. If Yang Qing didn’t agree, then the transcendent artifact was still to be loaned to Yang Qing regardless.
However, Hong Changhai had taken matters into his own hands. When he saw that Yang Qing hadn’t agreed to his demands, he had hoped to force Yang Qing to the edge where he would eventually have to agree. Unexpectedly, he got himself burnt playing with fire. Yang Qing actually had another trick up his sleeve, and took Zhang Decheng down with a burst of morale.
In light of that, it would mean that the School of Blue Jade had violated the terms of their partnership first—now it was Yang Qing’s turn to disregard the terms. Hong Changhai knew that this time, he had made a grave mistake.
If nothing out of the ordinary occurred, then the elders who acted as mediators between the School of Blue Jade and South Edict Manor, would be driven out of South Edict Manor.
Without these old men overseeing and fighting for the rights of the School of Blue Jade disciples that had already joined South Edict Manor, those disciples would likely have to keep their heads down and obediently heed orders. Otherwise, Yang Qing could kick them out of the system at any time.
Yet would he still want to take this opportunity to squeeze about four hundred of those School of Blue Jade disciples into South Edict Manor?
Now, even if the School of Blue Jade were allowed to squeeze those four hundred disciples into South Edict Manor, it wouldn’t have the courage to.
The reason was quite simple. Without the elders stationed in South Edict Manor acting as internal mediators, and limiting Yang Qing’s powers to allow for a just partnership; ensuring that disciples from the School of Blue Jade would be duly rewarded for their contributions, and not unjustly punished without reason; the disciples would surely be suppressed by Yang Qing. There would be very little opportunity for promotion, and in the event of any disobedience, Yang Qing would even be able to kick them out of the system. It would be fine if it were just being kicked out of the system, but what if Yang Qing were to slowly torment you—would you still date to run?
Squeezing the School of Blue Jade disciples into South Edict Manor would mean that he was pointlessly offering his men to Yang Qing.
Right now, the School of Blue Jade disciples that had already joined South Edict Manor were likely the most helpless. Unfortunately, once you’ve entered in the system, it wasn’t up to you when you wished to enter, and when to leave. Should they heed Yang Qing, or the School of Blue Jade’s orders from now on?
They surely knew that once the partnership agreement between both parties were severed, the School of Blue Jade’s control over them would be drastically reduced. Consequently, the one that would hold reign over them now was Yang Qing.
There were some who pondered on whether they should just work under Yang Qing from now on, but they were unsure if they could earn Yang Qing’s trust and recognition with their background in the School of Blue Jade.
Standing atop the mountain ridge, Elder Hong didn’t even know how he should report to the Sect Master. He had been confident that Yang Qing would agree in the face of a life and death situation, which was why he had done as he did. Unexpectedly, Yang Qing still had another hand to play.
As he looked down towards the bodies being brought to the side and buried after having fallen in battle, Elder Hong felt a pang. There were many School of Blue Jade disciples among them. The ones that were still alive, likely wouldn’t have any relations with the School of Blue Jade in the future.
The School of Blue Jade’s plans for controlling South Edict Manor had effectively gone up in smoke on this day. One wrong move had ultimately placed them in a checkmate.
In this unpredictable battle, there was only one winner. In the end, the one who had launched a preemptive strike, Zhang Decheng, was defeated miserably; Liu Jingtian was manipulated and was still oblivious; and the School of Blue Jade would have difficulty meddling into South Edict Manor’s affairs again after violating their agreement. Only Yang Qing had managed to force an unfavorable situation around on the brink of disaster—Yang Qing was the biggest winner.
Yang Qing didn’t pay heed to the hundreds of School of Blue Jade disciples atop the ridge. After bidding goodbye to Liu Jingtian and burying all of the dead on the spot, he brought away the living captives; not letting Liu Jingtian have a single person who he could question regarding the cause of events.
The snow had ceased, and the sun began to shine with a brilliance.
The large army didn’t stay overlong in Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor’s territory, and left straight for South Edict Manor.
Elder Hong’s expression darkened as he led the hundreds of School of Blue Jade disciples alongside them on the mountain ridge. It seemed like he still wanted to negotiate with Yang Qing.
Even Miao Yi could tell that negotiations had fully broken down between South Edict Manor and the School of Blue Jade, but he still could not make heads or tails of the hidden implications. This was mostly because he always had a poor relationship with his Mountain Chieftain Qin Weiwei, and also because there was no one to tell him of these sort of matters. Furthermore, the School of Blue Jade disciples under him had either been killed by him, or brought along to the Sea of Constellations and killed by demonic spirits.
The way he saw it, there was nothing special about the men from the School of Blue Jade. It would be ideal if he could recruit them as his subordinates and order them around; if they disobeyed, he could just get rid of them—it was a simple as that.
He always had the men from the School of Blue Jade obeying his every word regardless, and never had difficulty in controlling the School of Blue Jade disciples.
Seeing such a large number of troops just standing there, Miao Yi felt a little glum. If he still didn’t get any new hands assigned to him, it was likely that the East Arrival Cave Master himself would have to do the daily chores and duties. When that happened, even if he had enough Orbs of Will, he wouldn’t have the time to refine them.
But he didn’t feel it was his place to ask Yang Qing for more men. After all, he wasn’t the only one that lacked troops—even his superior, Qin Weiwei, would soon become a general without an army. Furthermore, the subordinates previously under him hadn’t perished in this battle; they had been sent to their deaths by him bringing them out for some alternative income—he didn’t have any confidence in asking for more.
The location of the battle had originally been on the border between Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor and South Edict Manor. It was not long before the troops returned to South Edict Manor territory. After finding a wide plain, they stopped again to reorganize themselves.
Reorganizing naturally signified the reassignment of troops for each Mountain. Most of the Mountains already had their casualties replenished by new men. Only Qin Weiwei’s Mount Calming Sea was extremely awkward.
After replenishing the manpower of the other Mountains, Yang Qing only chose twenty people under his direct command to give to Qin Weiwei.
It was useless even if both parties had a father-daughter relationship. In front of everyone else, the necessary punishments still needed to be enforced. He could not pretend as if nothing had happened after struggling through an uphill battle. If that was the case, how would Yang Qing expect to lead his subordinates in the future?
Qin Weiwei had been rash and fallen for the enemy’s trap, resulting in almost complete annihilation of Mount Calming Sea’s forces. Even though Yang Qing hadn’t blamed Qin Weiwei in public, everyone could tell that this was the guise for Yang Qing’s punishment to Qin Weiwei.
As for the rewards for contributions in this battle, Qin Weiwei likely no longer had anything to do with it.
Two of South Edict Manor’s Mountain Chieftains had died in this battle, so Yang Qing appointed two new men to take over.
As for the Cave Masters that had died in battle, there were quite a few—but Yang Qing didn’t interfere in their assignment, and allowed the respective Mountain Chieftains to do it themselves. He wouldn’t take away the authority of those under him.
As soon as he was done reorganizing his troops, Yang Qing allowed each Mountain Chieftain to have half of their troops stay to defend their own respective territory. The remaining half would follow him, and make a beeline for Ever Peace Manor. He was ready to take this chance while Ever Peace Manor was empty, to conquer it in one stroke.
Xiong Xiao reminded, "Manor Head, wouldn’t it be inappropriate for us to take over Ever Peace Manor? Wouldn’t we be inciting the wrath of the Hall Master?"
Yang Qing coldly replied, "How could I let someone else take the fruits of our South Edict Manor’s hard labor? If one doesn’t have even this much boldness, he would continue to be underestimated by others. The harvesting of the Orbs of Will is just around the corner—all of you follow me to first take over Ever Peace Manor. We will talk again once the Orbs of Will are harvested. If the Hall Master really wants us out after the fact, then we can simply retreat back to South Edict Manor once more."
Everyone else share a look. Since Yang Qing insisted on doing it this way, then they could only cup their fists and obey.
When he saw that everyone was still a little hesitant, Yang Qing suddenly raised his arm and shouted, "Once we have taken over Ever Peace Manor, besides the harvest of Orbs of Will that Ever Peace Manor has to hand over this year—the rest shall be everyone’s rewards for this battle. MOVE OUT!"
Once they heard of such a reward, and figured that even if the skies were to come crashing done, there would be someone higher up keeping it at bay. Since the Manor Head wasn’t afraid—what else did they have to fear? They immediately shaped up. With their morales raised, they acknowledged the command in high spirits. They left half their troops behind, while the rest followed Yang Qing, and charged straight towards Ever Peace Manor like brigands.
Almost all the troops from each respective Mountain had gone, leaving only Qing Weiwei and about twenty of the men she had remaining. Pretty much everyone who belonged to Mount Calming Sea was gathered there.
Qin Weiwei had no part to play in raiding another territory and the sharing the fruits of victory. Yang Qing leaving her behind would also be considered part of her punishment.
Truth be told, Mount Calming Sea also had no way to split its forces for the raiding more land. It had about twenty men in total, and having two men to guard each of the abode of Immortals was very well the bare minimum. Where would they find anyone to spare?
The men that Yang Qing had left behind didn’t feel troubled that they had to follow Qin Weiwei instead of going to share the fruits of victory. This was because almost all the men from Mount Calming Sea were dead. With so many Cave Master positions suddenly becoming vacant, the new replacements would definitely be selected amongst them. Even if they were not selected to become Cave Masters, they would still be highly recognised—this was Yang Qing’s strong point.
Indeed, after Qin Weiwei watched the other troops depart, she immediately filled the six vacant Cave Master positions.
Naturally, the four Cave Masters—Gongsun Yu, Li Youqian, Zhang Yuniang and Miao Yi—remained in their original positions.
Out of the ten Cave Masters, nine of those had another person assigned to them. Only Miao Yi’s East Arrival Cave was spared the manpower because under his command, there was still Yan Xiu alive and kicking. The others were more of a lone general than he was. It was plain to see how much Mount Calming Sea had fallen from grace.
Out of the twenty men Yang Qing had left behind, six had been assigned as Cave Masters, and another nine distributed into each Cave. As for the remaining five, Qin Weiwei kept them by her side. Given the size of Mount Calming Sea, it was impossible that she, the Mountain Chieftain, would not keep some men to command. Furthermore, it would be impossible to distribute the manpower evenly, even if she had to assign them all away.
Ten Cave Masters—each lone general accompanied by a single aide. They were all a little speechless as they looked at each other.
Not far away, Hong Changhai wasn’t sure whether he should bring his troops away or not. He was truly uncertain of how he would report to the Sect Master once he returned.
Miao Yi gazed in envy at the hundreds of School of Blue Jade disciples situated nearby. In a low voice, he begrudgingly complained, "Never have I seen such a pitiful Cave Master. This is the first."
Qin Weiwei turned her head to glare at him, feeling that Miao Yi meant that she, the Mountain Chieftain, was useless. She bit her lip, but ultimately endured it and didn’t say a thing. If it were the previous her, she would probably have immediately snapped back with, ‘If you’re not satisfied with being this Cave Master, you can choose not to do it. I will immediately assign someone new’.
Gongsun Yu was aware that the Great Cave Master Miao always had a poor relationship with Mountain Chieftain Qin Weiwei. Were it the past, he would definitely have jumped out in a heartbeat to side with Qin Weiwei and rebuke Miao Yi. However, things were evidently not the same as before. Nonetheless, he still loyally helped Qin Weiwei say a few words as he smiled, "Cave Master Miao, so long as we can hold out for the moment, the Mountain Chieftain is sure to find more men to replenish our forces."
Miao Yi scoffed as he thought, ‘Obviously this vile couple will put in some good words for one another’. With so many men lacking, he didn’t believe that they could be replenished in a short period of time.